WORCESTER, Mass. - The Worcester State University women's lacrosse team erased a two-goal deficit in the final 12 minutes of play to defeat Smith College 7-6 in non-conference action Wednesday evening at John F. Coughlin Field in their home opener.
With the win, Worcester State jumps to 2-1 on the season, while Smith suffers its first loss, falling to 5-1.
Neither team found the back of the net until nearly 11 minutes in, when Smith junior Maddie Ryan (Scituate, Mass.) broke the ice with her seventh goal of the season. It would prove to be the only Pioneer tally in the opening 30 minutes, as Worcester State goalkeeper Chloe O'Brien (Sturbridge, Mass.) was stellar in the first half, where she made six of her eight saves on the night.
The Lancers responded to Ryan's opening tally by closing the half on a 4-0 run to take a 4-1 lead into halftime. Junior Kelly Austin (Brimfield, Mass.) got the hosts on the board just 46 seconds after Smith took the lead, and Rachel Hopkins (Chelmsford, Mass.), Ann Maher (Mansfield, Mass.), and Kylie Hill (Lunenburg, Mass.) all also found the back of the net in the half to give Worcester State its intermission advantage.
The Pioneers went on a run of their own to open up the second half to take a two-goal lead. After senior Clelie Fielding (Francestown, N.H.) scored just 27 seconds into the half, Smith was off and running, scoring five straight goals, capped by a tally by Emily Biggs (Florence, Mass.), which put the visitors up 6-4 with 17:01 remaining.
Austin scored on the man down with 11:06 remaining to start Worcester State's rally, and less than two minutes later, freshman Madison Brennan (Pomfret, Conn.) evened the score by potting her sixth goal of the season. Austin completed the hat trick - and Worcester's comeback - on a free position goal with 5:23 remaining.
With exactly a minute to play, O'Brien made a huge save on a shot from freshman Reese Gittelman (Ocean City, Md.). The Lancers wouldn't give possession back to the Pioneers for the remainder of the game as Worcester State ran out the clock to close out the win.
O'Brien and Smith goalkeeper Alyssa Schams (South Lyon, Mich.) each made eight saves in the outing for their respective teams in the low-scoring affair.
Worcester State's Coley Hayes (Norwood, Mass.) and Smith's Shannon McGinnis (Levittown, Pa.) shared the game-high with seven groundballs for their respective teams. Hopkins and sophomore Hannah Sledzieski (Northampton, Mass.) each scooped up six for the hosts.
Austin was the only player in the contest with a hat trick, while also tallying a helper in the victory.
Worcester State's home stand will continue on Saturday at 1 p.m. when the Lancers host their One Love game against Western Connecticut State at Coughlin Field.